Banga soup, also called Ofe Akwu, is a popular Delta/Urhobo (a tribe in Southern Nigeria) soup. But today, this soup is not only popular among the Deltans but across many regions in Nigeria. It’s made by cooking palm fruit concentrate (juice) with ingredients such as meat, fish, and traditional spices. The soup is often used to sauce Fufu, Pounded yam, Semo, Garri, and even rice.
But, is Banga soup healthy?
Banga soup is considered healthy as it is rich in vitamin A, E, K, protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. Also, the low saturated fat content in the palm concentrate may help in managing high blood pressure.
If you’re wondering about the health benefits of Banga soup or just looking for its nutritional content, we have covered a ton of information about this delicacy in this article.
Health Benefits of Banga Soup
The core ingredient of Ofe Akwu is palm fruit juice.
Note that the juice is different from red palm oil. Both are palm extracts, but the red oil is extracted on high heat, making it contain more saturated fats than the juice.
Because of the less saturated fat, Banga extract is desirable for those struggling with high blood pressure.
After extracting the juice, Banga is cooked with other ingredients such as fish or assorted meat and spiced up with traditional flavors. All of these ingredients are also sources of healthy nutrients.
To learn more about the benefits of this soup, let’s consider its core constituent nutrients.
This nutrient plays a role in maintaining healthy vision, a sound immune system and provides other health benefits.
Palm juice contains antioxidants such as beta-carotene. The body turns beta-carotene into vitamin A to keep the eye moist and healthy.
One of the top causes of poor eyesight and vision loss is vitamin A deficiency.
Getting beta-carotene from dietary sources such as Banga will contribute to your vitamin A requirement.
If you have young kids, the vitamin E content in palm juice is something you don’t want them to miss. Depending on age, a child might need between 6mg to 11mg of vitamin E per day.
They need this nutrient to protect against the damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.
While there are tons of food items such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and spinach that supply vitamin E, adding Banga to your family menu adds the nutrient into your kids’ diet.
Grownups aren’t left out. Based on sex and stages of life, an adult needs might range from 15mg to 19mg every day.
Breastfeeding moms, for example, need 19mg of vitamin E per day.
So whether you have kids or older adults living with you, the vitamin E found in palm oil juice will benefit all members of your household.
This vitamin is another nutrient found in the palm extract used in making Ofe Akwu. The body needs vitamin K for essential body functions such as bone metabolism, calcium level regulation, and blood clotting.
Children and adults who do not get enough vitamin K may experience excessive bleeding from wounds, surgical sites, or injection spots.
Also, menstruating women could have heavy menstrual periods as a result of vitamin K deficiency.
This vital nutrient regulates calcium levels in the body by reducing calcium accumulation in areas such as blood vessels but increasing its accumulation in your bones.
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Increasing the Nutritional Content of Banga Soup
Adding assorted meats or fish, onion, ground crayfish, and leafy vegetables such as bitter leaves not only make Ofe Akwu complete but also enhance the nutritional value of the soup.
Let’s consider the nutrients of two of these ingredients:
Meats are an excellent source of protein, a nutrient required in large amounts for growth and development. Bones, tissues, cells, and other body organs also need protein to thrive.
Besides, when seasoned with Maggi cubes and onion, meat is appealing to the taste. Common meats used for Banga soup are “Panla and Okporoko”, which are both nutritious and delicious.
By using high-quality meat in your soup, your preparation will be healthier.
Fish is another content of a healthy Banga preparation. Apart from being a good source of protein too, fish is rich in essential nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.
Vitamin B12 is required for keeping the blood cells healthy, while iron plays a key role in oxygen circulation in the bloodstream. On the other hand, zinc helps with treating diarrhea, wound healing, and memory enhancement.
Dried fish, catfish, and smoked fish are common types used in Banga recipes. Using healthy fish will enhance the health and nutritional value of your preparation.
Can a Pregnant Woman Eat Banga Soup?
Perhaps you’re expecting a resounding yes or no, but that doesn’t fit in this context. But don’t fret!
Banga soup can be safe and unsafe for a pregnant woman. Firstly, you’ve read that Banga contains vitamin A and this is required for your developing baby’s eyes and skin. The best vitamin source of vitamin A is via dietary sources, which marks Banga soup essential during pregnancy.
On the other hand, Banga soup may not be safe, considering the ingredients used in the preparation. You know, it’s no soup until you fuse the whole ingredients to make it a soup.
So, the bottom line is the core ingredient—Banga, which is palm fruit, contains vital nutrients that can be beneficial to a pregnant woman, but the ingredients used in the preparation may make the soup unsafe. So, if you must consume this soup during pregnancy, be sure you use only healthy ingredients along with Banga juice. Needless to mention that moderate consumption is advised to avoid the effects of over-consumption.
Your physician may recommend avoiding or consuming specific nutrients depending on your medical history or current condition. Always consult with your physician for expert advice.
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Overall, Banga soup contains vital nutrients that are essential to the human body. However, you should consume in moderation and also check with your physician to see if your medical history doesn’t permit the consumption of all nutrients found in the soup. Otherwise, the soup is healthy and consumed by many people without any side effects.
It is tasty and goes well with various starchy staple foods such as Pounded Yam, Amala, Semo, Fufu, etc. Some people even use it as a sauce for white rice.